May 23, 2013
Obama says risky to attack Iran, wants diplomatic fix
US President Barack Obama said on Sunday there were important risks to consider before any military strike against Iran and made clear he does not want to see more conflict in the oil-producing Gulf region.
In a television interview, Obama also said he did not believe Tehran had the "intentions or capabilities" to attack the United States, playing down the threats from Tehran and saying he wanted a diplomatic end to the nuclear standoff.
"Any kind of additional military activity inside the Gulf is disruptive and has a big effect on us. It could have a big effect on oil prices. We've still got troops in Afghanistan, which borders Iran. And so our preferred solution here is diplomatic," Obama said.
His comments echoed concerns expressed by earlier by Iran's neighbor Turkey that an attack on Iran would be disastrous.
Obama, who is up for re-election in November, has ended the U.S. war in Iraq and is winding down combat in Afghanistan amid growing public discontent about American war spending at a time when the economy remains shaky.
He said Israel had not yet decided what to do in response to the escalating tension but was "rightly" concerned about Tehran's plans.
"My number one priority continues to be the security of the United States, but also the security of Israel, and we are going to make sure that we work in lockstep as we proceed to try to solve this, hopefully diplomatically," he told NBC.
Iranian leaders have responded sharply to speculation that Israel could bomb Iran within months to stop it from assembling nuclear weapons, threatening to retaliate against any country that launches an attack against the Islamic Republic.
Iran says its nuclear program is meant to produce energy, not weapons.
But its recent shift of uranium enrichment to a mountain bunker - possibly impervious to conventional bombing - and refusal to negotiate peaceful guarantees for the program or open up to UN inspectors have raised fears about Iran's ambitions as well as concerns about Gulf oil supplies.